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Thread: Anxiety & OCD

  1. #1
    lmh2402's Avatar
    lmh2402 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default Anxiety & OCD

    anyone have a young child (under age 4) "diagnosed" with Anxiety and/or OCD? if so, how have you been managing his/her manifestations? if therapy - what kinds? behavioral strategies? medication?

    we've seen a gazillion different kinds of people over the last 3 years and always i've thought DS seems to obviously have an anxiety issue

    he has no formal diagnosis, but many, many times we've heard that he seems to tick all the boxes for being on the spectrum EXCEPT for his relatedness.

    our current psychologist specializes in autistic spectrum behavior management and again, when we had our first parents only meeting and described our concerns, DS' behavior, etc...the psychologist said, "sounds very spectrum-like to me, but let's have him come in so i can meet him."

    at the end of his meeting with DS, he said, "no. definitely not on the spectrum."

    ok. then after filling out these forms and having his teacher fill one out, the psychologist now says that DS suffers from anxiety fueled by OCD.

    he says our options are behavioral strategies and/or medication.

    i am very leery to start psych meds for my less than four year old kid

    and we've seen some success with some of the behavioral strategies. but honestly, things are still really, really tough

    the mornings are just the worst. we had a few day reprieve when we introduced a new set of rules that DS seemed to think was fun to play as a game. so that worked and he was happy to "play"

    but then as of tues, out of the blue, right back to square one.

    i'm really at my wits end and not sure what else to try.

    we've been trying incentives. we've been trying negative consequences. we've been trying to extinguish by ignoring. but it feels like we're throwing cups of water at a house fire.

    i'm extremely discouraged and so sad

    he went to school this morning without any breakfast b/c he absolutely refused to yield and stop throwing the food. i have taken away all his favorite toys.

    my heart is broken and my head hurts.

    i am scared to medicate and scared that i will never see any improvement unless we do

    and my husband is really totally useless in this whole process. he isn't here enough to participate. and when he does, he has no focus, no consistency and no time to stay the course and hold his ground. so DS just runs him in circles and then he leaves for work and i'm left to clean up the mess

    ugh. any BDTD or advice or words of wisdom would be most appreciated

    thanks
    mama to my awesome sporty boy (4/09) , precocious little girl (7/12) , and loving doggies (10/05 & 1/14)

  2. #2
    mom2khj is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    I don't have any advice for a little one that young, however, we have been through anxiety/ocd with DD1 (didn't start until age 9, likely set off by puberty).

    These are a few resources we've found extremely helpful. I'm not sure how much will apply to such a young one, but I'll offer them up anyways.

    My heart goes out to you, I know what a struggle it is to deal with DC going through things like this.

    http://www.anxietybc.com/ <- this website had a TON of information for me, including specific things *I* could do to help DD

    These are a few books we've used and found really helpful.

    Kids Guide to OCD

    Kids Guide to Anxiety

    Freeing Your Child From Anxiety

    Our ped also recommended Yoga, here are a few kids resources we used:

    Kids Teaching Yoga DVD

    Yoga Calm for Children
    mom to DD1 (17), DD2 (14) and DS (9)

  3. #3
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    wellyes is offline Blue Diamond level (20,000+ posts)
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    DD has some of those issues. We are looking for a psychologist or family therapist that specializes in CBT ---- which is a very common therapy technique for anxiety. It's not easy to find someone who takes kids and is accepting new patients, but, we just keep trying.

    I would absolutely not consider medicating a young child unless other therapy attempts failed. I know there are posters here who've had success with CBT for their kids, hopefully a couple will be able to chime in.
    DD - 8
    DS - 5

  4. #4
    Sweetum is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Have you contacted your school district? The IEP or related process can bring some help. In the process You could get an evaluation from a psychologist not for diagnosis but for goals to work on, for areas of challenge. You cold even find a private one. It seems like you have been focused on diagnosis when you have met these professionals. It may be time to move beyond that and get specific recommendations for things to work on. The same person(s) would be able to recommend the therapy strategies and who could provide them. It is important, I believe that a professional therapist work with you not just someone who you consult with. These people have training and chart the progress (I am talking about ABA here) and know when something is working or not working. Depending on each situation, the parents sometimes do the therapy themselves but IMHO it is best if the parent does not work but rather has strategies to manage in the interim.
    Another important thing is to find local parent groups. They are going to be your best resource in finding the right help. Your school district might have a mailing list of all parents of kids with special needs. There may be an NGO that helps with this. Or contact any ABA company and ask what parent groups they socialize with professionally. You will find that you are not the only parent in this type of a situation.
    I apologize if I have mentioned things you already know, I didn't look at your background.
    When DS was diagnosed with Autism, I came here and posted a bunch of questions, and Gena and others guided me. That was my starting point and the best help I got to get started. You can take a look at my first post.
    Hope some of this helps.
    Last edited by Sweetum; 01-10-2013 at 05:48 PM.

  5. #5
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    DS was diagnosed with anxiety at 7. Shortlly after he started pulling out his hair (trichtotillomania) which is on the OCD spectrum. He was also dx with dyslexia and ADD. So we had a "triangle" of dyslexia, ADD, anxiety. At first we tried to treat the ADD with very low meds--if he could pay more attention, then he could learn more and would be less anxious. Didn't work--made him slightly more anxious. Went to sertraline and there was vast improvement.

    In the meantime, he/we were doing CBT for the hair pulling. Freeing YOur Child From Anxiety was key--practical tips for us to do to manage his behavior. We had DS see: neuropsych for full eval, developmental Pedi for an eval, OT, psychologist, psychiatrist. They all basically came up with: he has a learning disability and he's anxious, but he'll be fine.

    We continued to work with the psychologist, psychiatrist, and reading tutor. The psychologist was our "over riding provider". It was her job to make sure that he was mentally/emotionally healthy in the midst of all this. And she was awesome!! We followed her directions and it worked. Not overnight. But it did work.

    I work in psych and I have seen kids as young as 4 medicated--but it is not common. And we wanted to work with people who were conservative about medicating kids. So I'm not entirely sure you will get much traction there till he is 6ish. But the CBT is a must--for you and for him. Keep going and keep as steady as you can. Listen to the psychologist and make sure you are working from a CBT base. He has had a lot of change with your DD this year.

    Good luck!!
    Mom to:
    DS '02
    DD '05
    Simon--the King Charles cutie
    RIP Andy, the furry first child, 1996-2012

    "The task of any religion is not to tell us who we are entitled to hate but to teach us who we are required to love."

  6. #6
    JTsMom is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Jason is 7.5, so I can't speak to the young child part, but there are several things I want to comment on.

    -First, the ASD stuff. I feel your pain here, truly. We heard the exact same thing during those years-"Wow, he sounds spectrumy- Nope, he's not! He's far too social!". We heard it over and over again. Then, at 7, we added the Asperger's diagnosis. I was so shocked after so many years of being told it wasn't that, it took a while to process it. I even posted here about it. The neuropsychologist who gave him the diagnosis actually said that, in her mind, it was quite obvious that it was the correct diagnosis, and that led to me feeling really frustrated about the fact that we'd been told it was definitely not the right fit so many times, over so many years. I wondered why we had bothered seeing all of these specialists if they couldn't even name the condition, let alone treat it!

    But here's the thing- it doesn't matter that much. The challenges he faces are the same, no matter what we call it. It does help to have a nice, neat name for it, instead of trying to explain to people that he has "numerous issues", but our reality is the same. So as maddening as it is (and believe me, I know it is), just try to focus on the biggest challenges you're facing on a day to day basis, and try to address those. Know that the labels, may or may not change, but getting the right one is not going to be what's going to help anyway.

    -Anxiety- we just recently began medicating, after trying everything else on the planet. It hasn't been easy. The current medication (Zoloft) is making him aggressive. So far, I'm not convinced this is going to work, but when we took him off of the supplement we had been using (5-HTP), and I could see the anxiety in full force, it was horrible. So I know we need to do something.

    I also second the rec for Freeing Your Child From Anxiety. And a good therapist. If you can swing it, think about going yourself too, because knowing what you're going through, I can guarantee you can use all of the support you can get for yourself! This isn't an easy path to walk.

    -OCD- Jason started experiencing OCD symptoms a few years ago. Feingold seemed to make them disappear. Right before we started medicating, we discontinued Feingold. During the process of experimenting with different meds, the OCD symptoms have occasionally come back. I think it's due to the meds though. Can't hurt to give that a try.

    -Behavior stuff- I highly recommend The Explosive Child. We have tried every type of behavior modification technique known to man (aside from physical punishment). None of it has worked because the problem with Jason is not a lack of motivation, but a lack of skills on Jason's part. I can put him in time out a hundred times a day, take away everything he owns, and every privilege he has. I can do that consistently. It won't matter. The more I try to "crack down", the worse it gets.

    He does his best at home with me, so I know that I'm on the right track. A lot of people have tried doing things the "right" way, and it fails 100% of the time. He is not wired like that. The things that "should" work, don't. Period. On the flip side, especially in recent years, many of the specialists we see have told me that what I am doing is right. Traditional parenting is never going to work, and it helps to have that outside confirmation that what my gut tells me to do is the best way to handle him.


    The things that do help are empathy, avoiding problems when possible, structure, a calm environment, different expectations, and working together to solve his problems while teaching him the skills he needs to eventually do it on his own. I do not have all of the answers here. We struggle A LOT. But shifting my perspective makes it much more doable. I had to let go of the idea that it's ever going to be "fixed", and aim for "better".


    As always, I'm pulling for you! Just keep going. One foot in front of the other.
    Lori
    Mom to Jason 05/05
    and Zachary 05/10

  7. #7
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    My middle dd was dx'd with anxiety at that young age. Primarily at that time we worked with a child psychologist. She met dd just once or twice, but worked consistently with me on how to handle dd to manage her anxiety. At that time, she had OCD-like tendencies, bad separation issues, and even hoarding issues. I would describe incidents from the previous week to the psychologist and she would tell me specifically how to handle them (what to say, what type of affect to have, etc.). This definitely helped a great deal! I will say that for the transition from prek to kindy, the neurologist prescribed a very low dose of prozac to help dd because she was really such a mess with separation and novel experiences. It was extremely helpful and we only used it for about a year at that time (although at 13, she is back on it).

    Books are super helpful, and I've ready many, but I found that having a child psychologist working with me as the parent was the best. Especially at that young age.

    Hugs to you. Anxiety is tough. I am literally surrounded by it at my house. Some days are better than others..some months/years are better than others. It truly is something that waxes and wanes...and morphs. But I will say if you told me how improved dd would be now as a teen back when she was 3-4 yo, I never would have believed it. So there is definitely lots and lots of hope that it can be successfully managed!!!!!

    ps. It sounds like you may be frustrated with the difficulty diagnosing. I was too at the time. My dd had many terms thrown about at 3-4 yo (Non verbal learning disorder, PDD-NOS, attention issues, anxiety). It's just so hard to tease out a dx at that young age. That's why treating symptoms seems to be the focus at that age. DD now is dx'd with ADD-inattentive type, anxiety (which really presents as social anxiety at this point), and trichotillomania (hairpulling).
    DD1 - 1996
    DD2 - 1999
    DD3 - 2005

    Surfaces are for working, not for storing. - Peter Walsh

  8. #8
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    egoldber is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    I agree about finding a good therapist who can help you work with him. Older DD was not diagnosed with anxiety until she was 8, but she had symptoms long before that. I was convinced she had ADHD-inattentive, but with the proper therapy and meds, she does not have ADHD symptoms.

    We did start meds with her at age 9.5 when I felt that therapy had done all it could do and she still needed more help to cope. We did a brief trial with Zoloft (disastrous!) and then went to Prozac. She has now been on Prozac for almost 2 years and her life is so much improved. She also still sees her therapist anywhere from weekly to monthly (in summer) depending on the need at the time.

    I would not have done meds with a child that young, but my DD's needs/issues were nowhere as severe as your DS's are. I would try to find a good therapist that gets him and that you trust and then see what happens after you have worked together. It could take weeks to months for therapy to really help.
    Beth, mom to older DD (8/01) and younger DD (10/06) and always missing Leah (4/22 - 5/1/05)

  9. #9
    lmh2402's Avatar
    lmh2402 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    thanks, everyone

    my gut says no meds, but sometimes things are just so bad...and it's often so, so, SO IRRATIONAL. i mean seriously, the things that set him off are constantly evolving. i feel like i'm constantly walking on eggshells

    and he's so unhappy. it's very painful to hear him ask me over and over how to be happy, why can't he be happy, why can't i be happy, etc, etc...it's just sad

    the psychologist we've been using...i like him but he is definitely not in the "treat" DS directly camp - he says he's too young for it to be effective.

    you all have successfully done CBT with someone as young as my DS?

    thank you so much for the stories you've shared

    i remain hopeful that we can continue progress. i really, really hate for him to be so low. he's only 3. life should be pretty sweet at this age. worrying about what to play next...nothing more.

    i also hate that i feel like i make him sound like he's a monster and a horror all the time. honestly, he's not. he's truly such a sweet kid and he just loves to love. tells me constantly that he loves me, he loves his sister, he loves his dad and the dog, etc, etc. but these rages seem to come without any ability for him to stop or control himself.

    and these weird, crazy...fetishes...they seem beyond his control as well

    i feel like we did this to him. we *made* him...created him...flawed. and now he has to suffer

    it's awful

    anyway, thanks
    mama to my awesome sporty boy (4/09) , precocious little girl (7/12) , and loving doggies (10/05 & 1/14)

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    Quote Originally Posted by lmh2402 View Post
    you all have successfully done CBT with someone as young as my DS?
    I may get flamed, and I am no expert, so please take this as just my opinion, but I am very skeptical about effective CBT applied directly from therapist to 4 yo on 1x week 45 minute session basis. It's been my limited experience that brain work is challenging and hard work even among the most mature, motivated people. I *personally* would not be spending my money on someone who wants to see my 4yo child for weekly CBT sessions. That's why I found it more effective to see a child psychologist myself as I described in the above post who walked me through parenting my anxious child. She coached me through not indulging my child's obssessive thoughts or behaviors. To distract my child with brief humor or simply refuse to engage in any of her anxiety talk. I spent the most time with my child, therefore I was the one who was effectively helping her with her anxiety on a daily basis. Now when I did this with my child she was more like 5-6yo (if I remember correctly) and it was also around this time (summer of prek to fall of first grade...or so) that we also implemented the prozac...so I don't know how much of therapy/meds to attribute to dd's success, but it really was the child psych who helped me in my dealings with dd's anxious behavior, that is for sure.

    If you feel like you are not getting what you need right now from your current professional, you may want to explore others.

    It's so hard to watch our kids be unhappy and not seem to enjoy life the same way their peers do. I've totally been there. I hate to hear others go through it. Sending you mojo that you will quickly find answers and things will improve for your ds and your family.
    Last edited by pinkmomagain; 01-13-2013 at 01:39 PM.
    DD1 - 1996
    DD2 - 1999
    DD3 - 2005

    Surfaces are for working, not for storing. - Peter Walsh

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